Saturday, 3 January 2015

Film Review: Les Miserables

This wasn't my choice, but one of the family. I'd heard a few songs, wasn't too sure, but thought I'd try it anyway.

For me, I thought it was a mess of a film. There are a couple of good songs in there (Do You Hear the People Sing? is the best) but most of the songs are instantly forgettable, and there are a lot of them. I couldn't watch Master of the House being sung without being reminded of lapel-grabbing urchins dancing to You've Got to Pick and Pocket or Two from Oliver. The musical seems to lack a good musical structure of building up to a climax, I'm guessing because it was originally a stage musical where you have intervals and a big number before the interval. It means that while watching it, I thought we were near the end of the film, only for another hour or so to happen afterwards. I also find Tom Hooper's direction irritating, all odd camera angles and swooping close ups that end up irritating.

On the plus side, the live singing, something rarely done before in musicals, is quite good here. Traditionally musicals had performers lip-synching to the songs and then being sung over separately, either by the performer or a better singer. That said, Russell Crowe should have had this treatment. He's believably cast as an unsympathetic jailer, but doesn't have a good singing voice.

Hugh Jackman is very good as Valjean and Anne Hathaway's performance as Fantine deserves the plaudits it received. But what I came away from the film with most is that Victor Hugo wrote a damn good story and if someone had applied the same budget to a non-singing movie adaptation of the book, it would make a terrific film.

3 comments:

Mark Wadsworth said...

As a child I was dragged to see the stage version of the musical. Yuck.

The Stigler said...

Mark,

I can't really understand why it's a hit.

I rather like musicals, but the best ones have at least a handful of good songs to them.

Random said...

South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut is better than this ;)